Sector 33 is a new educational game from NASA that allows anyone to step into the shoes of an Air Traffic Controller. The game, which simulates the experience of directing flights safely into airports, is designed to challenge students in middle school and above to use basic math and problem solving skills.
In the game, the player acts as an air traffic controller guiding airplanes through a sector (33 – where the name comes from) of airspace in California and Nevada. By adjusting path and speed, players can ensure that planes reach spots in the sky in the fastest time possible while keeping all planes at a safe distance from one another.
The game is meant to align with the NASA Office of Education’s mission to engage current and future students in activities that are related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It is based on Smart Skies Line Up With Math, a software title that was developed in coordination with NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate and has been in use in middle school classrooms since 2005.
“Our hope is that Sector 33 will give students a sense of the importance of math in managing our nation’s air traffic, and at the same time, interest them in pursing a career in aeronautics,” said Jaiwon Shin, associate administrator for aeronautics at NASA.